Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Azalea Days


  April is azalea month here in coastal South Carolina. In our yard we have five different colors, each vying for the title, Most Beautiful. 


  Azaleas are members of the Heath family, a group of plants dating from 70 million years ago. They grew first in Asia, cultivated at monasteries by Buddhist monks, and according to some sources, first imported and grown outdoors in the United States at Magnolia Plantation in Charleston just after the Civil War.

  We have five varieties on plants that are 60 years old. The one above blooms first and is the size of a large car. Behind it you can see a red camellia still in bloom which has been blooming since right around Christmas!



  Our shady backyard is deeply lined with magenta azaleas, the last to bloom. The wonderful tree that shades them is a giant Loblolly pine, 90 feet tall with an 11 foot circumference! 



  







  Our 154-foot long side yard has three colors interspersed: light pink, bright pink, and white. These light pink ones are huge and they are my favorites. 






  And as long as they are blooming, I can’t resist bringing big bunches of azaleas into the house and tucking them in every corner!




  There is one other thing you should know about the beautiful azalea: it has a dark side. The plant, blossoms, and even the nectar are deadly poisonous! In spite of that, honey made from azaleas, called Mad Honey, was added to drinks in the 1700s to give a more potent high than alcohol. It was described as giving the drinker “the spins”. Of course, one had to keep his or her wits about them and be very careful to drink only a small amount.

   Sources say it is still available in Turkey. I don’t think I’ll be trying it!

13 comments:

  1. Beautiful azalea photos. My wife and I love azaleas in bloom, they are so colorful. Unfortunately they are hard to grow here in OKC. They grow well in Eastern Oklahoma and there is an Azalea Festival in Muskogee, OK that is fun to go to.

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  2. Those azaleas are gorgeous. They don't grow here in NH that I know of. When I lived in GA for 2 years in high school I remember how lovely azaleas were under pine trees. I know you must really enjoy this season. Didn't know they were poison.

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  3. I'd say you have an azalea farm! Very nice.

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  4. That is an amazing show. A feast for the eyes.

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  5. They are beautiful in full bloom!

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  6. It is a wonderful burst of colour and fills us northerners with envy! I had no idea of the potency of a drink made from azaleas. I wonder how many curious people will now want to try it?

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  7. Love all of the amazing colors! Mad Honey, never heard of it, so interesting!

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  8. Love the red ones but all are beautiful! Mad Honey now that is interesting! Raining here today and we could get snow next week:)

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  9. Those Azaleas are so beautiful. What I remember most about living in Summerville SC as a child were the huge Azaleas like the ones in your back yard, the magenta. I never knew those interesting facts about Azaleas. Your yard looks beautiful!!

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  10. Azaleas to me in your southern states of the now again USA - not the DSA - mean only one thing - AUGUSTA!
    I hope Paul is all organised for the 4 days.
    I reckon this could be the year of the AUSSIES.
    Joe Biden won't mind but that Red Hatted Nutter would have a fit - ha ha.
    Cheers
    Colin

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  11. How beautiful and beautiful the garden in your backyard is ...., it is fun to walk there among the pine trees and flowers blooming simultaneously, it looks photogenic.

    Greetings from Indonesia.

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  12. I love azaleas! I do sometimes have difficulty telling them apart from rhododendrons though.

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